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Hot Skies Over Yemen. Volume 1

Hot Skies Over Yemen. Volume 1 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review November 2018 Title Hot Skies Over Yemen. Volume 1
Author Tom Cooper Publisher Helion
Published 2018 ISBN 9781912174232
Format 72 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95


"The Republic of Yemen," historian Tom Cooper avers, "has been in a state of near-permanent political turmoil since at least 1962, and almost permanently at war since at least 2004."

Now Cooper splendidly surveys the decades-long aerial combat in Hot Skies Over Yemen – 11th in Helion's terrific Middle East@War range, and the first of two parts.

The author kick-starts contents with a pithy précis of Yemen's history. This helpfully lays foundations for the rest of the book. Don't skip it.

Cooper then chronicles five years of fratricidal fighting between Royalist and Republican factions after North Yemen's 1962 coup.

Coverage centers on Egyptian expeditionary elements with their stunning swath of Soviet warplanes – Yak-11s, MiG-17s, Il-28s, Tu-16s, and even improvised Il-14 bombers. Further notes on British and Saudi roles – as well as on stillborn attempts to forge a Yemeni air service – complement comments.

Events of 1967 finally fostered founding of the north Yemen Arab Republic Air Force (YARAF). The nascent air arm played pivotal parts in the northern conflict's closing stages, consolidating the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR).

Cooper briefly and subsequently segues to military aviation in South Yemen – initially the Federation of Southern Arabia (FSA), then, upon independence from Britain that year, the People's Republic of Yemen (PRY), and three years later, the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY).

A survey of torturous north-south relations follows. Occasionally erupting into coup and conflict, the kabuki dance of Yemen's ideological adversaries – often Cold-War fueled and occasionally involving neighboring states – spanned two more decades.

That culminated in the 1990 unification of both Yemens, which collapsed four years later. The resulting civil war saw, among many developments, Scud attacks, F-5E successes, and MiG-29 use – the last a region first. Brief, bitter fratricide spanned just two months, resulting in southern collapse.

Over 100 rare photos illustrate the account. Author Cooper's 21 superb color profiles with a score or more inset details provide plenty of model project inspiration. And three maps help chart actions.

Illuminating. Informative. And entertaining. That's Cooper's scintillating survey. I loved it. And I can't wait to start its sequel.

Alone, those intriguing MiG-17 shots and side views are worth the price of admission. But what is an Il-28 "'vanilla' bomber variant"?

Robustly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Casemate Publishing for this review sample!